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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Wife solves boat problem



Ever spend way too much time trying to solve a problem, only to have someone else solve it in a minute?

My lovely wife did that to me today.

Refrigeration on a boat is an issue. I spent way too much time figuring out costs, power usage, power generation, size -the whole nine yards. Up until now, we've been making do with various coolers. One leaked all over the cabin. Another just didn't keep food cool enough for a reasonable length of time. I even went so far as to using two small coolers. One was full of frozen solid food and drinks. The other was stuff ready to use. That extended cold storage a bit.

Chasing after ice is fine for a week on the water, but it's pretty expensive and a big hassle. Nobody wants to mess with ice and coolers for long periods of time. At least I don't.

I looked at low amperage use refrigerators. Even the small ones were out of my price range. Maybe with a bigger boat, with more solar panels, it might be worth springing for a tiny one.

12 coolers are cheaper, but only drop the temp about 40 – 45 degrees F. That's fine for keeping a drink cool, but not so good for keeping meat in 95 degree weather. Worse, their energy draw is pretty high. Anyone who's ever used one in a car and forgot to unplug it knows what I'm talking about. They kill batteries. They work in my air conditioned van on the way to a campground. Once there the cooler is switched over to AC. For a few days van camping, it's fine.

Trying to find an adequate boat solution was driving me nuts, but my lovely wife solved it for me.

“Let's not use refrigeration.”

There, problem solved. We never had it back when we used to go backpacking. We put together tasty and nutritious meals that didn't require refrigeration. We rarely used any expensive freeze dried trail food. On a boat, we can carry heavy things like canned food that backpackers avoid. Plenty of fresh food, fruits and vegetables do just fine without refrigeration.

With he money saved we can afford to occasionally buy a fresh meal or a cold drink at a dockside restaurant. That's easy for us and good for those businesses.

-Sixbears

16 comments:

  1. Talk about an easy resolution!
    See it takes a woman to solve certain situations:-)

    Give your wife a huge from a Okie blogger friend.

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes it does take a woman. I'll give her that big hug. Thanks Sandy.

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  2. Replies
    1. I'm just glad she had that lapse in judgement when she married me.

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  3. Maybe (just maybe) your wife got fed up with your lonnnng search for a solution... :) Mine did that to me recently after I spent wayyyy too much of time looking for the right boat: "this one she said, just build this one, no such thing as the right boat"!

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    1. That could be it. Your wife is right too. Every boat is a compromise of some sort. Build a boat to do everything and it will do nothing well.

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  4. Let's not use refrigeration... such wise words and a very good solution. People spend such huge amounts of money on refrigeration. When I was sailing without refrigeration and wanted a cold wine, I'd saturate a hemp sack or in the water, put the bottle in the sack, pull it up the mast and let evaporation chill it for me. You could of course make your own refrigerator by making a balsa wood box with a lid that has an indentation in it. You put water in the indentation and the water seeps down the wood, the air enters through horizontal holes and hey presto, you have a cooler for virtually no expense. I'm sure you know about that. And such fun too. The ancients would use terracotta pots in a similar way...

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    Replies
    1. I bet you have some tales to tell.

      Sometimes the simple solutions are best.

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  5. Dat be why sailors like the Rum matey ! It goes well with purt near anything at room temp...

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    1. We always keep a half gallon on the boat.

      Of course, I like my single malt scotch room temp too. Too cold and it kills the taste buds. (that's why American beer is served so cold)

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  6. Much easier and cheaper to not get a refrigerator. All most anything you want comes in cans or dehydraded in packages. Easier to store. A cooler takes up too much space on a small boat.

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    1. Yep,it's not all that hard to do, but until the wife pointed out she was cool with no cooler, it was very difficult. Space is limited.

      A bag of rice and a bag of beans don't take up much space but last a long time. Add a bunch of spice and we have basic calories covered.

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  7. I started where you ended up and went the other way. Occasionally I want fresh steaks on the barbie, so I went over to hack-a-day and instructables and worked out a work around. After market peltier modules and an upgrade to the power system. I scored a good ceiling fan for a donor for a Muddyman type wind gen with a difference. I mate it with a vertical off the shelf, roof exhaust turbine. A small VAWT makes sense on a sail boat. Right now I'm to figure out how to use the turbine to cool the cabin also. The funny thing about these exhaust turbines is you can add a small pipe below them, painted black and they will work on temperature differential in no wind conditions. 4 of the rigged thus put out more juice up at the cabin than all the solar cells and my horizontal gen combined.... On the cold box, I can get beverage cans to frost so far, but I want ice, so I'm still working on that.... I would recommend that you try a small muddyman mod gen and a dragon turbine mod for just about any power needs, even if you skip on the cold box. The surplus of power is hard to say no to. The direction I'm trying to go is with back up electrical outboards for the doldrums. Any how, I still need a surplus of power to run my Tesla coils while on the water.I figure a few million volts dancing around my boat will keep any unwanted boarders from trying anything stupid. The only problem I haven't worked out with the turbine is making them proof against the salt water environment. I may replicate the turbines in polycarbonate and epoxy paint all the outsides of the wind gen's. I told ya, my boat was going to be something else.

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    1. It is going to be something else.

      I had started in on designing a peltier module system -It would fit in my cargo hold, be super insulated low amp fan, the whole bit. Still wasn't happy with the potential amp draw. Right now everything on the boat runs on a 30 watt panel. It can be moved to follow the sun and catch the reflection off the water. Still, at max the panel is just under 2 amps.

      My 6 hp outboard has an alternator. I wired it to a heavy duty electric trolling motor plug. Now the power goes from the engine to the battery, but it would just as well in the other direction with an electric motor.

      Really thought about going all electric, but decided to keep the gas motor. We've been sailing a lot on the lake this year (just got back, in fact) but have used about a cup of gas all summer.

      I'm cooking in the cockpit with a whisper lite stove that can digest gas just fine, or I could use coleman fuel in the motor. Have done both.

      Not a big fan of . . . fans. Windmills of all sorts can be a hassle. Sure, they are relatively simple and can be maintained and repaired, but you have to maintain and repair them.

      Cabin cooling in the water is not usually a problem. The boat swings on anchor, always facing the breeze. Front hatch catches the breeze and directs it into the small cabin. I've a screen door cabin board for airflow. Also a 12v fan. Simple, not always perfect, but usually good enough.

      Marinas can be stuffy, but then I don't mind running the fan as most slips have electric power.

      We will have a tiny collaspable cooler for bringing a couple steaks from the store to the boat. We'll just use them right off. Might buy a bit of frozen meat for the next day's meal. Simple, and cheap.

      We we really should do is eat more fish.

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  8. Leave it to the women to point out a simple and workable plan! Cool!

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